Tag Archives: traffic

This guy – bicycles in Beijing………

A little while ago, I wrote a this guy post with random pictures of people we have seen along the way in our travels through Asia. This seemed a fitting way to make tribute to the many, many bicyclists we saw in Beijing. They were everywhere – and, India, if you are listening, the major roads in Beijing have bicycle lanes. I am sure I don’t need to tell you the number of reasons why this is a very, very good idea. 😉

And the helmet phenomena has apparently not hit Beijing. I did not see one helmet during our journey.

Anybike, it seems Delhi has many more motorcycles/scooters and Beijing has many more foot-powered bikes. But bikes were used for more than just transportation. These guys had bikes-slash-food stalls.

So sorry that the tree got in the way on this one – but I don’t know if I have mentioned that I am not a professional photographer and it is actually quite difficult to get a picture of a moving target when you are yourself moving and trying to take in all the sites. 😉 This bike looked like something out of the M.A.S.H. tv show but I don’t think that this guy was Radar riding on it.

I love this one – it is the bicycle repair shop. Fantastic. This guy can fix your bike – I bet he could even do it while you were riding by.

Yes, I am aware that this is not a bike – but it is fun, isn’t it? I think this is China’s version of a rickshaw – but don’t quote me on that.

This guy has the tire bike. But they are clearly not tires for bikes.

This guy has the trash bike.

A mini bike parade.

Another trash bike – maybe this is why there wasn’t much trash on the streets.

I have no idea what is in this bike – but it looks like it might be a cooler of some sort – so maybe drinks.

This guy is delivering someone’s lunch and apparently did not want his picture taken.

Another “I don’t know” picture – but fun.

This just might be my favorite. I love the baskets on the front of the bikes.

And more recycling. Yahoo!

And you might notice that there are no women in these pictures. Please don’t take that to mean that there are no women on bikes in Beijing – there are certainly women riding bikes. I just did not happen to capture any of them. Remember the whole “hard to take pictures of a moving target while moving” blah, blah, blah?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas………

Singapore is a fascinating mix of several cultures – Chinese, Indian, Malays, Eurasians, and Arabs. English is the primary language – although each group uses their own language too – so there is also Chinese, Tamil, etc. English being the universal language makes getting around super easy. Singapore’s population is around 5 million and 80 percent of the people who reside there live in government flats. Our taxi driver told us that they are all the same – 3 bedrooms, kitchen, family room, balcony, and I think two bathrooms.

There is a slight “big brother” feel in Singapore – you are not allowed to bring gum into the country or to chew it (you can smoke however – I know, huh?).  Littering brings a $1,000 fine – your second offense is $2,000. Cameras line the roads and no one crosses the street until the pedestrian light says it is ok to do so. Getting a taxi is easy – you just get in a queue until it is your turn – single file, no cutting, and no bumping. All of that works together to make an organized, efficient, and very clean city.

If you come from Delhi, Singapore will seem like a little slice of very clean heaven. There is little pollution, the sun shines or dances behind a few clouds (don’t forget your sunscreen), and no one honks their horn. Cars even stay in their own lanes. And even though there is traffic, it is not bumper to bumper – it flows nicely.

Because Singapore has so many different cultures co-existing, they seem to celebrate everything. On Friday, a lot of stores were closed for the Muslim celebration of Hajj – the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. And Orchard Road (the famous shopping district) was decorated for Christmas –  Christmas music played in all the stores. It was all sorts of loverly to see all the trees and reindeer smiling along the way.

It was a little funny to be walking in shorts in the high temps and to see this snowman. He did make me smile though.

All in all, Orchard Road was a great place to visit. We found the prices to be pretty high but you could visit any store you might be missing. It’s all here.

A kick in the rear……..

Yesterday was a big fat homesick day and I wallowed in it. For a while – then I literally got a kick in the rear – or a bump in the bumper – and was reminded of why being here is such a good adventure for my family.

I was riding to school on a busy road when the driver behind us hit the back of our car. It was a jolt, but I knew right away it was nothing serious. I was on my way to a meeting with the elementary school principal and I did not want to be late. So, it wasn’t the best thing that could happen on the way to school. However, it was not – by a long shot – the worst thing either.

And in India, fender benders are handled so differently. Most of the time neither driver even stops. A car is just a car. Nothing to get too upset about. (It is interesting to note that there really aren’t many super nice cars on the road here – it is kind of a waste of money because it would be nearly impossible to keep them in mint condition.) The challenge for me will be to embrace this more patient, uneffected mode of living – while still teaching my children to value the blessings we have – not to take them for granted. A car is certainly not disposable so we do need to take care of it – but ultimately it is just a car. A little dent here and there gives it character and a history of the places we have been.

In the U.S., a car accident of any magnitude would involve a lot of time, a lot of paperwork, time in the repair shop – frustration. Here a bump is simply a bump. You can move quickly on from it.

Today…………

Today I wish I could sit on the sidelines at the soccer field or in the bleachers at the swimming pool and see those friends I only got to see when my kids had practice. I want to drive myself to the grocery store – down a road where nobody honks and everyone stays in their own lane – and  I want to buy too many cucumbers and tomatoes with the best of intentions of eating them all. I want to be able to eat them without rinsing them in a bleach solution first. I want a loaf of Wonder bread that is so fresh the aroma assaults you when you open the bag. Today I want to go to Target and get 6 errands accomplished in one place and pay prices that are written on the things I want to buy. I want to know that the President and your grandmother and I all pay the same price for the same thing. I want to rush through a fast food drive-thru and eat food that is horrible for me but tastes so yummy. I want to sit on the front porch and use cheeseburger wrappers as a plate and watch ants gravitate toward the ketchup I am sure to spill on the ground. I want to drink a glass of wine out of a plastic cup and watch all the neighbors walk by with dogs that chase the squirrels and bark too loud.  I want to watch my husband reading the newspaper on the porch in his pajamas. I want to see 15 kids running through my yard playing flashlight tag. I want to watch the leaves blowing in the wind and I want to watch my kids make a big pile to jump in. I want to hear the leaves crinkle under my feet when I walk. I want to walk up to the shopping center and get an ice cream for dessert. Maybe I want a banana split with whip cream that tastes like whip cream. And I want to have 31 flavors and 16 toppings to choose from. I want to plan a Thanksgiving meal and invite our families over. I want to figure out a way to make it different and familiar all at the same time. Today, I want to be home.

Not Exactly Driving Miss Daisy………

You might remember the 1989 film in which Morgan Freeman plays a driver for an old stubborn Jewish woman in Atlanta. It takes a long time for the woman to be convinced that having a driver is a good thing and there are several scenes where they are shown slowly driving down unattended roads with few distractions. Ha. My riding in the car experience is not exactly “Driving Miss Daisy”.

Driving (or in my case “riding”) in Delhi is a unique experience. There is always a lot to see. It is never, ever boring. The first thing I noticed was the noise. It is VERY noisy. People honk their horns constantly. It means “move over, I am behind you and want to pass” or “hey, I was here first” or “it’s been too quiet for the last 5 seconds, I think I will honk my horn.” Some of the trucks even have signs on the back that say “honk, please”. This lets them know you are there. Even though it is a pretty good bet that someone is there – apparently, it’s good for them to know it’s you. There are some billboard signs that say “if you love Peace, don’t honk.”

The one thing I have not seen yet is road rage. People just seem to accept that it is crowded. Right of way is earned by the car that inches the furthest ahead. There are lines in the road – but I am not sure why. We have counted up to 7 vehicles across on a two-lane road. No, that is not really a great idea. Bikes, scooters, motorcycles, carts, tractors, pedestrians, cars, trucks, and buses all share the same roads. Sometimes there are beggars and animals in the middle of the road too – just to keep it interesting.

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This is an auto rickshaw. It has a motor and three wheels. They have horns and certainly are not afraid to use them. They are smaller than a car but slightly more substantial than a motorcycle – so they are more nimble than the cars. They weave and bob through traffic with the best of them. I have counted up to 10 people in one of these – it’s not uncommon and no, I am not kidding.

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More than one person can ride on a bike.

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This is a rickshaw powered the old-fashioned way – with hard work. My Dad would say that it builds character. But, I do not hope to grow up to be a rickshaw driver. Many of them are barefoot.

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Usually more than one person is riding in them. And it’s not necessarily that I am a horrible photographer – but it is often very hazy here. Okay, maybe the slightly blurry part was operator error.

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Delhi is expanding its metro transportation system – so there is a lot of construction.

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Your car will be side-swiped at some point. At least once. So far, we have had three traffic incidents. I consider it preparation for having teenaged drivers.

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There are animals everywhere. Some of them are working – some are just wandering. This guy needs a hug.

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This guy is delivering eggs somewhere. Did you know that eggs do not have to be refrigerated? Don’t worry – we still keep ours in the fridge. But they don’t have to be. I am just not willing to risk it. Hmmm.

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Motorcycles can transport entire families.

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Just maybe a scarf should not be worn on a motorcycle. But that is the way it is done here. Yes, this always makes me nervous.

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Besides the poverty – this is one of the things that is the hardest for Western women to understand. Yes, you are seeing that right – she does not have a helmet on, her scarf is draping, and she is sitting side-saddled. And no, she is not holding on to him.

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Indians seem to make the most of everything. A lot of people can fit in one car. I am always surprised when I see these cars so full of people and I always have to peek in. I never see children fighting over who is touching whom or parents drawing imaginary lines in the seat. I would love to know how they make that work.

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Sometimes  people will drive the wrong way down the road.

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Sometimes trucks are overloaded. Would you like to buy a sweater?

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Sometimes people just hitch a ride. Going my way?

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Sometimes people walk down the side of the road with bundles of sticks on their heads.

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Sometimes it’s baskets.

This is just a little teaser of all the things you can see while driving in India. I will share more later – but right now, I think your boss, wife, and/or kids might be calling. 😎 I know mine are!

I wonder if this would work in the U.S…….

I had seen this sign once before – but I did not have my camera – dang it. I was so hoping that I would see it again and that I would have camera in hand. Wah Lah!

I have to wonder if the threat of embarrassing yourself is really a deterrent against traffic crimes. If so, how lovely! In the U.S., I am afraid this sign might actually serve as encouragement…..

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